Kellie Bornhoft is an artist and writer working in Columbus, Ohio. Native of Kansas City, Missouri, Bornhoft is currently a MFA in Sculpture candidate at The Ohio State University. Bornhoft received a BFA in Art from Watkins College of Art and Design in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2013. Her work reconstructs cultural depictions of nature through the mediums of sculpture, video and performance. Bornhoft uses micro-controllers, motors and digital processes as a self-condemning medium.
"What the public wants is an image of passion, not passion itself."
Culture has become estranged from nature and this truth is made evident by the industries built to reestablish a human connection with the natural—or at least to give the consumer an impression of a connection. We pay admission and scramble through crowds to gaze through thick glass at animal from an exotic land. Surrounded by the constructed “natural” habitats of concrete rocks and curated plants, we are assaulted by the smell of fried food from the concession stand. Our senses come alive upon encountering a lion cub up-close, with speakers disguised as rocks exuding “tribal” music. Nature is consumed as some sort of luxury — the very nature that we ourselves originate from. Be it zoos, second-rate theme parks or suburban landscaping: these environments cannot escape the fiction of their fabrication. The very existence of such places reveals a void in the cultural identity of humans.
My fascination with these contradictory constructions drives the theme of my practice. Despite my awareness of the corrupt operations behind these environments, I have an attraction to them that I cannot resolve. After observing the strategies of idealization imposed on nature, I employ a process of imitation in the studio. With the intent of exploiting ironies, I work with similar materials and forms of these constructed environments. In a recent series of “Fabrications” I assemble sculptures out of materials such as artificial greenery or plastic wood flooring that capitalize on the mimicry of the materials.
The role of nature institutions such as museums, parks and aquariums can be compared to contemporary art institutions: fabricated experiences, idealization, and contradictions of production. Both didactic systems appoint hierarchies of value upon objects and beings. I navigate my practice through a theme of culture and nature because it interrogates the human condition at-large. The subject acts as a stand-in for me to negotiate the purposes and outcomes of my own art making. I collect from experiences of false nature and fabricate works through a personal system of value. By skewing the scale, form and context of found objects - I rearrange imagery and material in to a myriad of sculptures, video and images. In Swept, a self-standing kinetic sculpture, a broom drags across a lush patch of sod. The human-scale sculpture resembles the gesture of mowing or raking a lawn. In the time period of several weeks the sod grew and the touch of the broom changed with the taller grass. The slight sweep began to stick in the grass and overtime the caress flattened and killed the grass. My practice integrates flawed technology to make the magnificent pathetic. Technology equips us to perfect images of nature beyond reality, thus creating unquenchable desires. We are left desiring an idealized encounter that will never exist. The result is a con deluded human identity within the world that we live in.